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Elliot Abrams; Max Boot; Jay Nordlinger Education. (2012) Panel 'Foreign Policy and Chambers Is Witness' Message Relevant Today?' New.

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China 15, U.s. 10, Us 10, America 8, Europe 6, United States 5, Cia 5, Iraq 5, Cuba 5, Egypt 4, New York 4, Clinton 3, Charlie 3, Elliot 3, Israel 3, Baghdad 3, Islam 3, Taiwan 3, Fbi 2, Abrams 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Elliot Abrams; Max Boot; Jay Nordlinger  Education.   
   (2012) Panel 'Foreign Policy and Chambers Is Witness' Message...  

    December 15, 2012
    3:05 - 4:10pm EST  

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night to hide documents on a pumpkin on his farm. the old wood stock typewriter as the type face that told the story. the war blur that richard nixon used to trap him in the cross-examination, and these things, they live in a mythological memory. it was in the "new york times" three weeks ago or so in a box, you know, a-11, a war blur appeared in new york city in manhattan, and times photographed it, making the reference to this work we're going to talk about today, and then, i think, a classic status was enhanced by the seemingly
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never ending decades of controversy in which the defenders tried to make slanders of the authors of witness stick. today, i want to introduce the three panelists. this is an amazingly powerful group we have here. all at once. leave it to them. they will take it over. each, i hope, making remarks ten minute, and we'll open it up for further discussion. elliot a -- abrams had a remarkable strings of enormous importance. i remember him going back to the early reagan years. he began my knowledge with human rights, and that was really
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something, the jimmy carter invention of human rights, and in charge of latin american affairs, positions in the white house, and in every case, he really always brought deeply moral and intellectual realm into the work he was doing in practice and in policy, and now he is the truth teller in an entirely new career, it seems to me, an issue in the middle east, the arab israeli problem, telling the truth where the truth is very rarely to be found or not -- twisted, and i would say, speaking of classics, gives a plug to i think the first book he did, maybe not the first book, called "undo process," which is a classic of washington, i think, no one should go to washington without reading that book.
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[laughter] max boot, in the times when laws and rules and principles of strategy seem to be overwhelmed or out of date, he's become thee authoritative voice on military affairs always with amazing, consistent, unquestioned integrity, which is also kind of a rarity in the field which is marked often by to littization, and we are looking forward to more work. jay, who i just met a moment ago, i think we all here realize that serious thought an international affairs requires the widest range of reference that you can't just focus on one
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corner of the strategic realm, and you see his name, the authors line, you know you're about to get something with tremendous explanatory power, and with writings that go across the culture of the country and the arts. calling into account that annual fraud, the nobel peace prize -- [laughter] after they call it, nobody can ever say "nobel peace prize" again without saying so ironically. i'll turn it over to them, and i think we'll start with elliot, if that's okay. >> thank you, charlie.
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i -- we first met when i was a very young, getting around the department of state, and i got guidance into the true secrets of how the department works from charlie, the top assistant to schultz, and those secrets are buried, don't worry about that. [laughter] i have a few points to make and questions to raise with "witness," and how communism is relevant today. first, the place where "witness ," i think, is clearly relevant, and that's where we deal with the great communist power of the day, china. chambers -- this is a passage i like, chambers wrote, "what i
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had been fell from me like dirty rags. it was not communism, but the materialist modern mind, the shroud of which it spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing the instaipght for the soul of god denying the reality of the soul and birthright on the mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step." we now watch the soulless cheese nigh communism party battle chinese christians, buddhists, and believe that if they can only offer a few more apartments or better factory jobs in port cities, that will offer the answer to chinese people's yearnings for freedom. in that sense, everything chambers wrote about communism and its failures is quite applicable, i think. the tougher question, or a
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tougher question, is the relevance of what he wrote to our struggle today with islamism. here, the other side relies on faith, and our side, especially in europe, seems to rely on materialism. this was a struggle of the human soul, chambers wrote, but we often seem to believe that the answer to islamism is simply more employment opportunities for saudi youth. we're, this a sense, in a position that we criticize the chinese leadership for having, but even here on the islamic question, chambers had interesting things to say. he wrote, quote, "the difference between liberalism and communism was in degree only." this question arose in the previous panel. continuing" they put faith in man rather than god and shared a common world view." there is a lesson here.
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chambers held we could not fight communism, bask with its near relation, liberalism. if 4e were alive, i think he would say we cannot fight extreme sharing a world view with it, namely, non-violent islamist extremism. if that's obvious to you, it's not been obvious to many governments around the world. the government of the united kingdom that spent a decade asking and promoting what it saw as nonviolent islamist extremist groups under the theory that only they could talk to the and dissuade violent extremists only to income in the end, the end of the blair period, that the shared world view was disastrous, and that, obviously, they should be backing
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antiextremists, individuals, and arguments. chambers' story, as has been said, is not the story of the loss of faith, but the acceptance of faith, christianity. in the current islamic case, the analogy is not perfect, but there is an analogy. after all, chambers was born into a faith and culture of christianity, in and around new york, in the first decade of the 20th century. he did not, in the end, adopt some foreign religion, but his own religion. that of his ancestors. similarly, we don't have to seek to have islamists convert to a foreign religion, but rather claim islam of their own ancestors, one unpoisenned by the extremism we associate with al-qaeda.
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the problem for us is that communism and christianity were very much part of western culture, and something we were knowledgeable about and suited to fight over. islam is different. it's hard for us and for our own government to be effective in the struggle within that religion. i just also want to note, by the way, because charlie mentioned a novel, "middle of the journey," "witness" was a great bigraphical work, and "darkness at noon" was one of thee greatest novels bout it, and they have great political impact in part because they were great literary works, works of art. there are some islamic works breaking with extremism. the islamists, but i don't think, i don't read arabic, but i.coop think there's any such
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works that are great works of art seen from the point of view of literature. i believe we still await such a work. two brief final points. with the -- "witness" was written to awake us to the domestic threat we fake, something his case, obviously, demonstrated. the question is is that lesson still relevant? the threat of terrorism from al-qaeda or hezbollah is grave, but it comes from foreigners, not misguided americans, or does it? should we be more concerned about the attraction of extremist views to american citizens? timely, the old issue, which also came up in the last panel, chambers' pessimism. he thought he joined the losing side, famously. would he they that, today, he wrote that in this entry that the next decades will be decided
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for all mankind whether the world is to be communism, free, or the struggle of civilization as we know it will be completely destroyed or change. the collapse of the soviet union meant that the future of communism is decided, i think, however long it takes, it will collapse in china too. i believe, yet his tragic sense of life would have kept him from being poly anish about western civilization. human societies like human beings live by faith and die when faith dies, he wrote. certainly, in europe he would see that faith dying. similarly, he would have watched faith in that case, in communism, die in the ussr, and we are seeing faith in communism die in china. would he see faith dying slowly now in our own country, while yet it burns so brightly in so much of the muslim world, or
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would he see the extraordinary expansion in africa, latin america, or evangelicalism in our own country as a sign today of new hope? i leave you that for the discussion period. thank you. [applause] >> i want to begin by quoting stockdale who said who am i, and what am i doing here? the first thing that occurs to me is perhaps i had been invited because i am the owner of a hat that looks remarkably like the one that chambers' models on the cover of the program. [laughter] it's possible. i've been invited because i'm an
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avid viewer of "homeland" about a trader working his way up in the u.s. government positioning himself as a vice president and the mas nations of a henry wallace. i think the more obvious reason why i'm invited because nathaniel is extremely, extremely, very, very, very persistent and would not take no for an answer although i explainedded i have little knowledge of chambers beyond reading the book when i was proxzly 16 years old, and having been influenced by it, i'm not in any way an expert on chambers, witness, influence, but i will talk as directed. [laughter] i want to pick up a little bit from where elliot started, and i might add, by the way, the irony that both elliot and i happen to hail from an organization that counts on foreign relations that
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chambers would have seen as a hot bed of pinko. the world changes. when i think of "witness," when i think of it, i think not just of the fact it's a document of great literary power, of which it is and heart of its literary appeal, but it was a weapon in the ideological battle against communism that was raging when it came out. it was not a weapon designed, funded, or created by the u.s. government, but nevertheless, it was a powerful instrument of warfare on communism, and i'm sure that inoculated people around the world to the appeal of communism and revealed its true face, which the communism hierarchy did so much to keep it, and there was, of course, a larger war, ideological war, called political war, being
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waged by the u.s. government and a lot of individuals including folks against communism, and i think the message i take from "witness," and not that just, but many other manifestations of this struggle, whether you think about radio for europe, radio liberty, the congress for cultural freedom and counter magazine, or for that matter, cia secret funding provided to christian democratic party in europe to resist communism appeals or in japan or much later on in the 1980s, the efforts made by the u.s. government to fund and support solidarity to undermind the communism regime in poland or when you think of the role playeded by the u.s. government to help smuggle out, and received a wide audience, and
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thinking of that, i think there are echoes here and lessons to learn for the present day of the ideological struggle we face today, and it's not a struggle against china, although they could be the greatest adversary in the long run, they do not have a transended ideology at the moment, but when you think about ideological struggle today, the obvious is against the forces of jihaddism extremism, and there is are lessons from "witness" on how to wage the day, and what should be known again as political warfare, and since he was invoked by the greatest explainer and student, i wanted to invox cannon from a 1948 memo he wrote on the organization of political warfare to define what i talk about when i say
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"political warfare." cannon said it's the employment of all means of a nation's command, short of war to achieve its national objectives. such actions are over and covert. they arrange from covert action of political alliances, economic measures -- obvious example the plan to aid western europe, and propaganda as support to friendly foreign elements, black psychological warfare, and encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states." i think that's relevant today thinking about the struggle going on in the muslim world between extremism and modernism, and there are muslims open to the appeal of modern -- moderation, but the moderates need a helping hand because they are in the competition of well-funded extremists who, by,
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definition, are willing to go further and do more than moderates are to seize power. now, when i talk about waging political warfare, i don't have in mind some of the, i think, misguided efforts that characterize the u.s. government in the wake of 9/11 when, for example, president bush appointed first in advertising exacttives, and then a political spin meister to run the diplomacy section at the state department. i think we were too caught up at that point in thinking of public diplomacy to sell brand america essentially and getting people to love the united states. i don't think that's really the point of this because i don't think that, well, it's nice to be popular and hope everybody loves america as much as possible, i don't think that's the key to victory in the struggle, but the key to victory is really empowering the forces of moderation over the forces of extremism and violence in the muslim world, and their attitudes towards the united
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states are often accompanied by where they stand on the political spectrum with moderates much more open to alliance and cooperation with the united states than the radicals. i don't think the united states is necessarily the key to the story. it's an internal muslim struggle which we have the capacity, i believe, to effect, at least at the margins, and should effect at the margins because the outcome matters greatly in our interests and, in fact, to our security, even at home. my concern while we have done something well over the course of the last decade, we have not done a good job in waging political warfare. what we have done really well over the course of the last decade is killing a lot of radical extremist leaders. obviously, the greatest example is the raid that killed bin laden. in the course of the last decade, jsoc, joint operations command, the seals delta force and so forth, headed by, for many years, by somebody who is now a yale professor, stan
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mcchrystal, has become a finely honed killing and capturing machine. we don't do heaven capture because we don't have a legal frame work for holding terrorists, but the cia got in that business, helped along by regime petraeus when he was its director, and, together, those two organizations, jsoc and the cia, have been very, very good at killing or capturing a large number of leaders of al-qaeda and various other allied organizations. that's -- i'm all in favor of that. i'm not against those raids. i'm not gons drone strikes, but i think it's necessary, and i also believe it's insufficient, and the analogy i draw is to the kind of the campaigns we have waged in iraq and afghanistan, and in iraq, we did an excellent job of going after individual bad guys from, really, from the start of the war up until the end. there were notable successes like capturing hussein, and so
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forth, joint special operations command became this amazing machine conducting the dozen raids a night in iraq, but it was really not sufficient to win the war until we did other things, until we had what would be known as full spectrum killing insurgency which meant more than killing or camturing leaders, and it meant security operations, also, dealing, in a limited way, dealing with the economic and social concerns, reaching out, for example, to tribes, trying to bring them into the -- the sunni tribes, bringing them into the larger structure of iraqi governments. you know, the kill or capture piece is essential, but it's just one piece of the larger puzzle, and if we foous on that alone, we're not successful in the bat 8 going on in the muse -- battle going on in the muslim world. we are favoring the kill and capture piece, especially in places like pakistan and yemen,
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somalia to some extent and other states. i don't think we have great strategies of waging political warfare. that's what we need to do, a gap that needs to be filled, and i think we can draw lessons from the days of the cold war as to how too that. the need to do that, i think, was brought home to me by a meeting i had a few years ago, i think in 2008 in baghdad with a fellow named -- a brave iraqi parliamentarian, brave or suicidal or a combination of the two, who dared to visit israel and thought iraq should normalize relations with israel for which sentiments he faced attempts to get him imprisoned, which he beat, and won rulings in his favor in an iraqi court, but he didn't stop the extremists who in 2005 attacked
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him and his sops and killed his two sons in retaliation for visiting israel. testifies not discouraged, ran for parliament, won a seat in 2005, but i remember meeting with him in his living room in baghdad in 2008 rueing the fact he had little money on which to run for re-election or to fund a slate of like-minded candidates whereas all the radical extremists in iraq got cope yows funds from the iranians, and the iranians called him asking if he want the $5 million, and he said, no thank you, i'm opposed to what you stand for, but very few people in iraq turn down an offer like that from whatever source. what happened in iraq is that the iranians basically had free run to assert their influence, and we did very little to stop them, especially so in 2010, just talking about this with emma sky, one of the great experts on iraq in the world, an
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insider during this period, we did very little to stop them, especially in 2010, under the obama administration, when they took a very hands off attitude saying we're not going to get involved in the outcome of the iraqi political debate, we just want a free and fair election. well, to my mind, that is a mistake. it's proven to be a mistake in practice allowing, essentially, pro-iranian elements to seize power in iraqi, but it's really a mistake not made by the fore bearers in the days of the cold war. in the early days of the cold war, the truman and eisenhower administration did not take the attitude, we don't care if communism comes to power in france, italy, or japan, as long as there's fair elections, that's all we care about. that was not their attitude. in fact, they were willing to pour covert american funds into political campaigns which, on some level could be seen as prejudice to the free and fair elections, which i think they under correctly to be in the
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long term interest to preserve democracy and freedom in those countries. we have to rethink the checks we put on our behavior today where we are terrified of having the cia, for example, be involved in covert funding of modern elements in the muslim world, in part, baa we are rightly concerned that cia involvement is impossible to keep secret in today's world of wikileaks, but i, you know, unfortunately, our enemies show no self-imposed limits on them, and out there practice active dollar diplomacy on interests not congruent to our own, and we are standing on the sidelines. it's a lesson that -- this is just one example of many oh i think we are failing to wage political warfare. i only have time, within the short limitations here, but i think we need to do more beyond what groups like the
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international republic and institute of the national endowment for democracy, set up by reagan, and much more to do including freeing the u.s. information agency from the shackles of the state department where they reside and sending it lose to be more of of a pro-active champon of views that we should be championing which i think is the case today. also doing things like increases language training for officers in the state department and cia and others allowing them to stay in country for longer periods of time, being a part and getting a nitty-gritty sense of what's going op in the areas and how to effect them, hard to do with the constant rotations that go on today. again, i don't have time to spell it out in detail here, but i think the big message i would want to leave you with is that we did know how to wage political war fair, and it's not easy to do today, but it is possible to do, and i think we need to wage it again, and for a
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start, we can start by resuscitating the very term "political warfare" recognizing its utility in the struggle against jihadist extremism. [applause] >> well, i don't have a hat. >> you can borrow mine. >> i have a tie given to me by the organizers and jay press. i never felt more yale-like in my life, and i appreciate it. [laughter] boot should be the directer of a restored cia. he knows what he's doing, what ought to be done. elliot abrams should be secretary of state, but we'll have to wait for brighter times. [laughter] i have jotted down a series of points i wish to make or observations, and in interest of getting them in, i will not
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stitch thogether. it's tly like my web column florida. [laughter] -- column in other words. [laughter] i wish to say i double in anti-communism, it's and present. my next piece in national review is a profile of natalia, the widow of the writer who is very, very busy heading the archive, a huge project, as you can imagine, and so my piece is a historical piece in a way, but, obvious, endless relevance, and i work with cuban exiles, chinese exiles on issues of human rights and democracy. i do a lot of this, and sometimes, in fact, an people ask me why, why this great interest in cuba and china? i should do more about north korea and vietnam.
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laos, and china has a lot of people in it. communism's not a thing of the past for a great many, but a serious problem of the present. why do you spend so much time? one answer is that it's right to do and interesting to do and satisfying to do, but another answer is that very few do it. you have a field almost to yourself. i used to say, less now than what i said this 15 years ago, that if a palestinian kid falls in ramallah and skins his knee, you'll read about it in the "new york times," but you can be tortured to death in cuba or north korea, and nobody finds out about it. we all do our bit. when i was a college student, there was a lot of yapping about human rights, some quite good yapping, but i'll tell you what the people around me meant primarily. they meant human rights in chile
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and philippines, and above all, a partide south africa. that was the great human rights cause, the grt moral cause of that time. i knew who the players of south africa were very, very well, the name of political prisoners, the political actors, and i think i knew the politics of south africa better than the politics of my hometown. there was great concentration on south africa, banned from the olympics for many, many years. in the meantime, the olympics were held in moscow, ect.. a couple words about cuba and our relative indifference to the suffering of cubans, ordinary cubans, but also disdense, people of conscious, people who starve themselves to death for example, and hunger strikes, why the extremes? i spoke to a great many people about the problem, our indifference to cuba, and i recall one saying it was one of the most puzzling and painful phenomena of our times.
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there's some, many people, but i think of one in particular, a man who ought to be famous. he ought to be on the cover the "time" and "news week," and he ought to be a big deal, ought to be songs about him, poetry, movies, movies of the week, ought to be o 60 minutes every other week. it's a man named oscar, a heroic man, a brave man, inspiring man, and a practitioner of non-violence, he got out last year, interviewed him as soon as i could. he's a follower of ghandi and martin luther king, and he's even black, but nobody cares or who who he is. they are on opposite sides of the great divide. he's someone who ought to win the nobel peace prize. give it to the ladies in white. these people who began, they
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were wives and sisters and daughters and so on of political prisoners caught up in the sowled black spring. a wonderful group. they are beaten and beaten severely for what they do. they hold candle light vigils and the like, and the state just can't stand it and it makes things very difficult for them. let me quote armando, used to be known, still known by some of us as the cuban writing a once famous memoir called "against all hope." a cuban dictatorship were right wing rather than left wing, we would have won nobel peace prizest already. i said in the office about the objection to my colleagues that the left, if i may, so often sets the agenda, determines what we talk about, even if we disagree, people like us, here, disagree. they term what we talk about. there's a man named allen gross,
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and elliot knows plenty about him, he's been a hostage in cuba for about three years, in fact, three years next month -- >> tomorrow. >> tomorrow, yes. he's not a hippy traveler, but he's an official american aid work, usaid worker. he's been hostage, this american, basically, of this dictate iraniansship 90 miles from shore for three years, very, very little attention. it is a puzzling and painful phenomena. quick word about china, i think henry kissinger said the chinese communism party and the chinese state they are like mexico and the pri, the p-r-i. that may be. i'm reminded often, serge what -- certainly what i receive in e-mail, still, for all its changes, it's a one party dictatorship with a giew log.
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i think they made the word famous, and bigan is an acronym. used to be spelled with capital letters, than capital g" b and then lower letters. there are people, particularly fallen gone practitioners tortured to death in the system, certainly every week, if not every day. in china, there are serious allegations, and i believe them, of organ harvesting. this is a huge story, and the world is relatively indifferent, and i recall something that robert said, you people find out about these things later and say how shocking. nobody said anything. not true. people say things now, and even the foremost english speaking expert on the issue of organ harvesting in china. i think he is a prophet or early truth teller, maybe a
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chamberlain type. there were people who told the truth way back before it was cool, if it's cool today. how about this stance of the world on china and little taiwan, this little liberal democracy. it is a true liberal democracy. pitting the lie to the idea that liberal democracy and asia are imcompatible as south korea puts the lie to it and other people put the lie to it. let me tell yao -- you about the world economic forum. everybody meets in january, and everyone's there, good, bad, indiercht. i mean, nations and governments. at my time, i have seen representatives of hue sap -- hussein's regime and tehran, and i sat next to the foreign minister once, kind of a creepy experience. guess who is missing? taiwan. democrats in taiwan is not invited because china would be upset.
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we have more interest in china an human rights. hillary clinton said, i think it was february 2009, that human rights would have to go on the back burner because there were more pressing concerns like, i quote, climate change. that may be so. they may be so. human rights not the be all and end ul -- all of foreign policy as we all know. i think i said abram twice t. it's hard hard to get that " s" out, abrams, i apologize. it was said, do what you got to do, but ask yourself this question -- how does it look to the boys in the camps, the boys in the camps who find out about things? how does it look to them what you're doing? there was bible readings with the fellow prisoner of his, a christian for awhile when it was allowed, and they called the readings, the sessions,
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reaganite readings because they heard that reagan proclaimed one year, the year of the bible, we all say what stupid mother pie, year of the bible, give me a break, but that meant something to those two. it can mean something to others. the nobel peace prize, 60 years after passing over prisoners, after 60 years, they gave a peace prize to a leader of charter 0 # 8 who is in prison today. imagine that. imagine, a nobel peace laureate sitting in prison and president obama, the other day, hailed a spirit of cooperation between the united states and china, and maybe there's an argument for that, but these two guys are fellow nobel peace laureates, obama and him. there needs to be attention.
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final thing on china. in tween, we, the united states, held human rights talks with china. this puzzled me greatly. we're a liberal democracy. they are a one party dictatorship. we had human rights talking with them, and afterwards or after one session, the press had question or our guy, assistant secretary of state, i think, michael posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy or something like that, and the press said, mind you, talking with the chie need communists who torture tibetans every day. did the arizona immigration law come up? if it did, did you bring it up, or did they? poser said, we did, early and often to show that we, too, have problems in our society. this is what we used to call in the bad days, moral e qif lance. it's not gone.
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final remarks. did you see this video the other day that a professor at montclair state university in new jersey denying that the soviet union ever killed nebraska? he wrote a book called "crus chef lied," and lied in the speech. you know, he didn't own up to much in the secret speech, but it was a block buster speech, but he didn't own up to all that much, and here's a guy, an academic freedom, blah, blah, blah -- [laughter] let me ask you, would we have a holocaust with the fault -- really? i wonder. the aforementioned bob said this was in an interview with me a few years ago that in the academy there's a feeling of don't let's be too rude to stalin. he was a bad guy, yes, but the americans were bad guys too and so was the british empire. eric die the, and apologist for
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communism and stalin. bob, who told the truth about the soviet union won a degree from a university run by, a sadly corrupt president, i believe, who admired bob. that says something about academia and the world. did you see the poster the e.u.? showing all the symbols of europe? it showed a cross, star of david, crescent and so on, and a hammer and cycle. there was a bit -- there's an outcry from the lit wanians, and why aren't we in the west sympathetic enough to the sufferers, the persecutors under communism to subject ourselves? why leave it to these? but there it was. i'm fairly relaxed about the communism symbols.
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you see a guy with a cccp sweatshirt and his trinkets. i did a study of this, a simple magazine piece, and, you know, they are not the worst. people say it's proof we won and can mock it. it's just kind of funny. you don't see swastikas and people saying, oh, relax, it's just a t-shirt. as was pointed out, there was just one good picture taken in his life, looks like a movie star in the picture, the cheekbones just right, but other pictures, not all that much, really, honestly. let me -- this is all regarding chambers, really, but he was a witness and a truth teller e and it was really, really hard for him to fore sake, not pop pew lair approval, but to foresake
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approval for those who mattered. what you call the liberal establishment, that's a very, very hard thing to do, to give that up and be reviled by all the right people. he had tremendous guts, and i just think he wouldn't substantial doubt not tell the truth. it gnawed at him. the same was true, and it's unlike change, and live not by lies, and i have a favorite story about the difficulty of standing up to perceived opinion and to phac, and it comes from the supplier of a great much of the best stories, and if i mess it up, i hope he corrects me, but it's a story about joseph who said, brodsky a strong guy,
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why not stand up to the intellectuals? he said, understand, norman, it's easier to stand up to the kgb than new york intellectuals. people admire you if you stand up to the kgb, but not the new york review of books. is the story something like that? >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> besides you won't win the nobel prize. [laughter] that's the literature prize. a final comment about god who has been mentioned a few times today. funny you can mention god here. i'm pleased about that. see what the supreme court says. the talk about god reminded me of another story. he said in a more gust place like this, in buckingham palace saying when i grew up, born in 1919, really an intellectual kid, a math whiz, and, you know, before he was a writer, quite a mathematician.
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he was an intellectual kid, and so 1919, he's born, and so he's, you know, he's a boy in the 1920s, and a little older in the 1930s, and he said the old people around him, could have meant people in their 40s and 50s, and he said all the old people around me, simple minded people said, you know, this all happened, meaning this catastrophe of power, because the people forgot god, and so, people forgot god, give me a break, superstitious country folk. he studied the soviet union for decade, in of camps and out. he was the aforemost writer about it, and he said towards the end of his life, he said, i can't unprove what the simpletons around me said, that this happened because we forgot god. you might say, well, what about the jihadists, they make a lot
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of god too. these issues are very, very slippery. i must say how grateful i am to be here at this symposium and with these colleagues, thank you. [applause] >> just briefly before opening to questions, further to what i heard, and, you know, chambers, the title of trillings novel, the middle of a journey, is referenced to first sentence of dante's devine comedy, and in "dante inferno," you get one picture after another of the people that on earth surrounded
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him, and it's a picture, hypocritical person after another. the surrounding climate of opinion there in italy at the time, and that's so telling and in terms of "witness" to chambers', a great book, and that's the tone i get, that book, more importantly than anything else, which was that he livedded in a time and culture of opinion that swirled around him that didn't believe him, didn't see these things, could not grasp them, could not believe that this person could have challenged someone like that, and that was -- it was a foreign ideology that had come into america. it was a first. it came in the 1930s, and then in the 1940 #s and 50s, ewe that
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in the cold war, one which underneath it all said everything in civilization, western civilization was illegitimate, fraudulent, reject authority, and you had to swim in that, and that's what chambers had to do. it came back in the 1960 #s, the left, the neo marxist revitalization of this. you read about that in "the long march," and that second time around got into the intellectual bloodstream of the academia of american, and the generations of four years, a lot of generations have been swimming in that stuff. it's all around us now. that, to me, is one of the major feelings that i have when i think back on my reading of "witness." over to you.
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>> [inaudible] thank you. i have an observation and question. i've conducted two or three interviews over the last three or four weeks with members of the counterterrorism task forces, fbi, homeland secret, secret service, state and local police agencies, and so on, fighting terrorism, and what they tell me is that they have pretty well figured out al-qaeda domestically in terms of violence and unlikely, with the exception of small bombings, that anything large will happen, but, they say, that the problems they don't have a handle on is the infiltration going on by al-qaeda into domestic intelligence, agencies, defense department, and so on, and what they tell me is that al-qaeda has pretty well figured out, and the other islamist terrorists,
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that they can't beat the west by blowing us up, but they have to use tactics that the soviets use against us in the 1930s and 40s, and, in fact, if you go on the internet, and i challenge you to do that, google what the left says about challenges to the infiltration of islam terrorists into american institutions, that what you find is ridiculed. you'll real when several members of congress raised the issue of hillary clinton's top aide having islamic brotherhood connections, that the ridicule was profound, and that, in fact, this one fbi agent told me you cannot get even the question of infiltration by islamist terrorists into american institutions past the censors if you will, and that we are basically of the same position we were that, i guess, that at the time.
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comments? >> it's rude to raise such a subject, isn't it, elliot? rude that anti-communism was considered rude, rubbish, disrespectable, and members of the rotary, for example, raised anti-communism points. you know, national review was anti-communist, and it's rude to discuss these issues, isn't it? >> i think there are differences, i would say, one is that a case was made in the 1930s and 1940s, certainly, that communism was good for america, and we had this wonderful ally in uncle joe stalin. you can't make the case that al-qaeda's good for america. nobody's making that case. it is not the same as being a member of what was, at one point, at least, a public
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movement, and it was then a movement with wide support in parts of the intelligence. that's not true of al-qaeda either. it is different in the sense that what you're doing is, if this is correct, infiltrating individuals, into positions, and "homeland," your favorite show; correct? >> i don't like the word "homeland" in the u.s. government. it's not an american word, but go ahead. >> i'm not sure about the analogy, how much of a problem this is, but i really don't know. >> i'm with eelout. i'm step kl there's a huge al-qaeda infiltration of the united states government. i think it's a problem, primarily in the muslim world where they are able to -- it's not just al-qaeda, but groups like hezbollah and, you know,
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the type, and pakistani tell ban and others, al-qaeda in the peninsula and many other groups that take advantage of chaos and lack of strong institutions to promote their brands of extremism and, there's, obviously, a lot of chaos and a lot of collapse of institutions throughout the greater middle east right now because of the arab spring, and so i think this is really where this battle is going to be fought. i don't think it's primarily a battle on the home front, where, again, on the home front, it's from 9/11-type events, not carrieded out from within the u.s. government, but certainly lower level people who infiltrate our defenses, and we have to be aware of that, but i'm doubtful there's too many muslims working into the top echelons of the usg. >> back to the fact of what jay
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was saying on political warfare. the state department. i think that -- i don't think that's the key problem. i think the key problem is the view which is very popular in the united states, including the united states government, that the islamists, not al al-qaeda,t the muslim brotherhood is the way of the future. it is the authentic voice of the muslim world and how do we know it's authentic? they hate america, the ultimate proof. it remind me of the old days in lat tip america when the carter administration thought that the wave of the future, the authentic voice of the people was groups like the fmln in el salvador. how do you know they are authentic? they hated america. you see the refusal to engage in political warfare in places like egypt, where, you know, 48% of the people voted against morsi
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for president. they didn't want a brotherhood president, and right now, today, this week, thousands of egyptians out in the street protesting, only we're not protesting. the state department said expressed concern when he did a little constitutional coo a few days ago, concern, which is about the weakest word in the state department lexicon. my fear is you have millions of people in arab countries who want to fight for democracy and moderation and the rule of law, and they are fighting. they are going to have a tough struggle, and we're not going to support them. we, the united states, officially, because the administration seems to have concluded that the islamists are the authentic voice of the youth and the wave of the future. ..
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let me make this a my flippant point about the hillary clinton aide. half jokingly. maybe more, more than half seriously. what does alter was she was married to anthony wiener. the former congressman. if she is the kind of plan that is one heck of a trick. [inaudible conversations]
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>> was just add on to every was saying. the age-old battle between tyranny. to use an old phrase, hearts and minds. liberty lives in the hearts and minds of people who want to be free. and i wonder if you could comment a little bit on how belief in god or maybe respect for creation or the mystery of creation and relates to the discourse that you have been describing. [laughter] >> he wanted to add on. >> i have to think about that before i can add on. >> used to say that question is like peking duck, requires 24 hours' notice. [laughter] >> what you do is your best, and
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you get people behind various iron curtains, courage, let them know they are supported. even can speak up in their time and place and give them support regardless. you may find that to your average later after walls come down. on the defense that he got in the former soviet union, when he went there i could tell many stories about this, but my favorite is the man walked, knew he was there and walked out on the street without saying a word handed him a rose and walked away. this man just knew he was a conquest. it had similar experiences, and i believe in the middle east and that names like bernard lewis will be greatly honored, and other names we can think of in the least studies will be greatly dishonored. i, like a lot of us, i intend my share of middle eastern conference's. the people i meet there are
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liberals, i mean, in the old sense, they might as well be fellows at ati. oh, those are just a few of the western educated. well, lot of people are western-educated, including a lot of mass murdering terrorist. these people do stand for something. i think you mentioned 48%, 47 percent was the magic number of the american campaign. 48 percent in egypt. well, they ought to be acknowledged by the likes of us, meaning the u.s. government and our society. >> i would add on and say that i think it is a mistake that, you know, some people commit to see the war against groups like being a war of religion. hours, whether it is whenever your religion might be, i don't think that is the case at all because i don't think these extremists speak for a very large number of muslims. think what you're really seeing is a civil war within the muslim world that is going on. it is not a war, and i think samuel huntington was wrong. this is not a war of cultures.
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this is a war within cultures and is really a war within the muslim culture between those who have different interpretations of what is on commands and certainly there are radical extremists, but they're generally not winning their way through the ballot box. they generally when there way through violence and keep power of gunpoint. and even when they do manage to win at the ballot box, you see in the case of egypt, for example, the government trying to change the rules to make it very hard. you'll also see, as alluded to earlier, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people rallying into your square to oppose that power grab, and there is no question that, for example, in egypt the muslim brotherhood won the election that was held fair and square, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that the opposition was so ill organized. there was a lot of opposition, but it did not have the kind of organizational structure that the muslim brotherhood had, and the moslem brotherhood was winning not on an appeal of
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imposing iranian style is a real law, it was winning basically on a bread-and-butter appeal of trying to revive the egyptian economy and get people back to work. it was tapping into the daily concerns of ordinary voters have all over the world. unfortunately you may well have situations and you will have situations where radical extremist groups can hijack egypt or libya or syria or elsewhere were you don't have a strong push back which is what i'm suggesting we and our allies in the west need to help provide , support to these brave liberals and moderates in the muslim world who do want to push back but just need the tools to be able to do so. >> try and answer to that question. died and liberty. i think it goes to of the idea that in the concept of god that we have and the judeo-christian approach, there is a sole that
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each individual has a soul. and that means that each individual is an individual. there are no two alike. and that is the basis for quality. because that means no matter how strong you are, how bright you are, how rich you are, it doesn't matter. you have a soul. i have a soul. we are equal in that sense. that is the case than you have to have liberty because the individual, there is nothing like that individual's own decision to move the decision maker. that gets into the economics of things that we talk about in the public forum. so that is the source of liberty when it comes from religion. if you have a religion where the ideology of the regime takes over the religion, that ideology erases the individuality of the soul. and therefore, you don't have liberty. we have time for one last question.
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>> i'm going to rely on you guys to add precision to my question, but i sense that there is a continuity or similarity in some of the issues that chambers has experienced and some of the things we're seeing today. in particular, when chambers' first went to the state department, it wasn't an issue of people not believing him, but people downplaying the significance of what he said. and, you know, talk about the important news being put in the back pages of the new york times. so it seems like a lot of the time it's not a shoot of belief for disbelief but on how much emphasis we put on various pieces of affirmation or people
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put. and they talked about people putting a lot of emphasis on a bombing in baghdad and less emphasis on the liberal voice that we might hear in the middle east. the same thing, i think, we are seeing with susan rice in benghazi where people live saying, okay, she might have done it, but it is not important so how do we prioritize information to make sure that we are seeing the world correctly or events in the world correctly? it seems like that is an issue that is relevant then and now. >> one piece of good news is that sense september 11th a lot of people have become very, very interested in the middle east, and they never were before. there were forced to become interested in the middle east. not long ago i asked professor lewis was born in 1916, very, very few people in the west when he was. did you ever think that your field would become so important there would be such interest in

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